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Show Your Staff Appreciation

Your company is going through hard times, but your employees are hard-working troopers. How can you show them your appreciation?

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Q: Mycompany is facing a tough time financially, and my employees havebeen extremely devoted and hard-working through this difficultperiod. I would like to show my appreciation in some way but,obviously, cannot afford a fancy celebration or a costly bonus orreward. What advice can you offer?

A: Thetruth is that the amount of money you spend on a companycelebration is not what determines its success. An officecelebration can be as simple as pizza for lunch or doughnuts for anafternoon break. One objective of the celebration, of course, is touse it as an opportunity to reiterate your appreciation for allthat your employees have done. There's an old saying everyoneknows is true because we've all felt unappreciated at some timeor other: "If people are not told overtly and clearly thatthey are appreciated, they will assume the opposite." A party,no matter how modest, is an easy, natural setting for expressingyour gratitude for employees' hard work and loyalty.

The real key, however, to having a successful celebration thatprovides meaningful, long-lasting results is to use it as anopportunity for your employees to relive recent accomplishments atwork and share them with the group. Your role in such a celebrationis to facilitate the reliving. The objective is not for you to talkabout what people have done; it's for you to help youremployees talk about what they've done. Your job is to promptpeople to talk about accomplishments that you value and those thatthey value. The more you talk, the less meaningful the event willbe for the people in the audience. By the way, if you're havinga meal, this discussion should precede the meal, not follow it asis usually done. If you do it before the meal, related conversationwill continue through the mealtime.

During the celebration, people will share what others did thathelped them personally or things that contributed to some result ofthe organization. This kind of verbal recognition of peers willimprove working relationships, reinforce high performance and serveas a prompt to others not involved to contribute in similar ways inthe future.

When the participation begins to wind down, you should end itwith the presentation of some tangible item. The item should bechosen not for its monetary value, but for its ability to anchor amemory of an accomplishment. Anything will do, including items suchas T-shirts, coffee mugs and caps. A clever or serious inscriptionwill create the value. The tangible item should be presented simplyas something to help employees remember what was accomplished andwhat they did to contribute to the achievement. Do not present itas a token gift. Although the item may be serviceable, the memorythat links it to accomplishment and high performance is the key tomaking it valuable. Following this approach will go a long way inshowing employees that you care, even in tough economic times.

Aubrey C. Daniels, Ph.D., founder and CEO of managementconsulting firm Aubrey Daniels & Associates (ADA), is aninternationally recognized author, speaker and expert on managementand human performance issues. For more about ADA's seminars andconsulting services or to order Aubrey's book Bringing Out the Best in People: How To Apply TheAstonishing Power of Positive Reinforcement, visit, orcontact Laura Lee Glass at (800) 223-6191 or

The opinions expressed in this column are thoseof the author, not of All answers are intended tobe general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areasor circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consultingan appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

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